January Features:

When you put your heart and soul into something for years and years, it can be hard to leave it behind. It can be even harder, however, to tell whether something's truly right for you after a certain point. The biggest reasons to be in a band are to find fulfillment from making music and to have a good time. If neither of those things are happening for you, then it could be possible that quitting the band will actually improve the rest of your life. Here are five signs that your band isn't right for you.

We’ve all been there—those moments just before downbeat when you realize something is terribly wrong. Yes, as professional as we like to think we are, even the most seasoned touring veteran has those “oh crap” moments, where a piece of equipment is either malfunctioning or missing altogether.. A million things can go wrong in the minutes just before a gig; however, it’s usually the little things (that could have been avoided) that cause the biggest headaches. We think if you have a pre-packed emergency kit with all of the essentials above, you’ll be set for most challenges that might come your way. Good luck!

My #1 advice is to do as much as you can to alienate your audience. Make them feel like you're not someone who could even be spoken to or approached. I find an air of superiority is always quite useful. One of the easiest way to go about this is to make sure you look down on everyone around you, including your peers. Remember, people that are more successful than you are just 'sell outs' with no artistic integrity. Also, look really disinterested at all times. Treat everyone like this and they'll be thinking "who the hell is this guy?" in no time.

Follow these steps and maybe you will see a change in the results. Pay it forward and keep your eyes on the end goal!

Your press photos help define who you are as an artist. Poor quality, generic, or uninteresting photos generally get the same type of preconceptions with the music (quality, marketability, etc.) Local media love featuring artists, but won’t include photographs unless they are captivating or interested. It would be nice to say that it’s all about the music but the first impression drawn is almost always from the photos (they come up on any website and I end up staring at the photos until the music starts up). Like anything else you do with your career, you want something that stands out. You want it to reflect yourself and your band. You want good quality.

The end of the year is upon us, and that means it's time for resolutions! We've all made the typical resolutions before – get in better shape, stop eating junk food, quit smoking, spend less money – but what about those specific to you as a musician? There are plenty of things you may want to do in 2015, but we'd suggest starting with these six resolutions to really kick your music career into high gear. Don't forget to customize them (e.g. "I'm going to release one new song a month," or "I'm going to attend at least three music conferences by the end of the year") to align them with what you personally want to achieve!

In The Biz:

Those of us who have been around for over 40 years know a little bit more about the evolution of the music industry than our younger counterparts. Remember the 45? You know back when the Jackson 5 was a group and Michael Jackson had an afro? You had an A side and a B side. Then there was the LP and the 8 tracks. Most of us bought singles in those days because it was all we could afford. However, we got the music we wanted and record labels made money. Even when the tape recorder came out and we started recording our favorite songs off of the radio the industry still made money.

A band is a unique and complex relationship, and with so many different personalities and goals among band members, things can sometimes get tricky. Some people are direct, some are passive, some are more organized than others. "Musicians are sensitive and odd creatures," says songwriter/guitarist Paul Hansen of indie folk band The Grownup Noise. "So inevitably, it will be a dysfunctional, but hopefully loving, family."

Mental illness and music isn't a subject that is often discussed, but it is one that affects a disproportionate number of musicians. Many, probably most of us, can think of a time that music listening to it, playing guitar, writing and performing songs helped us through a difficult time in our lives. I know I can. Playing music is a way of achieving catharsis, to deal with our emotions by expressing them. I'm a long way from the troubled teenager I once was, but even now, there's nothing like grabbing an axe and rocking out to lift my mood if I get low.

These are some of the worst and most common hoaxes because they seem so benign but they can easily cost you a lot of money without getting you anywhere. They tend to disguise themselves in the form of some sort of legitimate opportunity from a legitimate business whether it be getting your song played on the radio, getting you a record deal, or letting you play a showcase in front of a big time A&R rep. The common thread though is that they will all ask you for money to get access. With the exception of membership-based organizations like ASCAP or The Recording Academy, press, marketing, or radio promotion agencies, or a qualified professional industry consultant (determining that requires research though), there are hardly any legitimate music businesses that will charge you in order to get access to a career opportunity (and honestly the aforementioned companies aren't charging you for access, they're charging for their services- but I didn't want to confuse anyone into thinking they are not legitimate businesses because they cost money).

Congratulations, your album is finally finished and you are ready to share your masterpiece with the world! You have already read "The Secret to Using Social Media to Build a Massive Base" and you are eager to implement those ideas and promote your project. You have gathered a list of websites, DJs, booking agents, A&R's and promoters to begin networking. Well... on that list is a sketchy promoter, an unethical booking agent and a commercial DJ waiting to take your money. There are members of the music community who prey on unsigned musicians. "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."-Hunter S. Thompson.


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